BT Tuesdays: My Silver Lining Playbook

It’s predicted that this winter is supposed to be bad, Chicago. Really cold. Lots of snow. The character building kind of winter that makes our people tough and inspires really good art. Or lots of Netflix binging. Of course, there’s no real way to really tell. It’s just predictions. But we’re preparing for the worst.

That’s what they said about last winter, though. And we had barely any snow and a few 60-degree days in February. Sure, there were sub-zero days, and I-can’t-feel-my-nose days, and I’m-sweating-on-the-CTA-with-all-these-damn-layers days. But, because we were prepared for the worst, it really didn’t seem so bad.

A lot of people have a lot of opinions, based on predictions, on how we should approach the new president. We should give him a chance; we shouldn’t trust him; we should wish him luck; we should root for his downfall; we should respond to him with love; we should pee in his soup.

I go back and forth between these mentalities. Hope is in my nature. It’s a part of who I am, a part of my soul, a part of how I function. I live, survive, and thrive on hope. But I’m also a realist. And I know that my next president is a misogynistic racist. So that makes it hard to be hopeful.

But plenty of people in plenty of countries do it–continue to carry hope. And their leaders have blatantly committed far worse atrocities than our next president has. Yet.

Two days after the election, a close friend called me. “Was the Hillary loss a big deal for you?” he asked. I told him that yes, it was. He continued: “I’m sorry if I was insensitive about it. Can we talk about it sometime? I’d like to know where you’re coming from. I want to know why you’re feeling this way. And, again, I’m sorry if I was insensitive.”

What an amazing phone call to receive. We will have that conversation. And I, in turn, will ask why he chose to vote the way he did, because I truly want to know. Hopefully we can have a healthy dialogue and cross some bridges. But just that phone call, and the past seven days, have gotten me thinking about what I’d try to articulate.

Hopefully I can communicate how that there are many, many, many, many women who’ve been sexually assaulted. They are your daughters, your sisters, your coworkers, your friends. You might be thinking, “Not my daughter. Not my sister.” And I truly, truly hate breaking this news to you. But it is your daughter; it is your sister. Just because you don’t know about it, doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened. So many women silently suffer, telling maybe–hopefully–a therapist or a close friend. And now our president-elect has said he can “grab them by the pussy” because “they let you do that.” Chalking it up to locker room talk. Hopefully I can explain how his talk, and that so many people overlook or support it, makes me feel devalued and less safe in my world.

Hopefully I can articulate that my entire professional life has been dedicated to bridging the gap of opportunity in Chicago, specifically among people of color. And now we have a president-elect that supports things like Stop and Frisk, you know a policy deemed unconstitutional (due to racism) and ineffective (due to…duh). Oh, and let’s not forget how the guy accused a group of people for–among other things–being killers and rapists. (I don’t think I have to point out the irony given the last paragraph.) Hopefully, I can explain how this personal affront to people of color, to the work I do, once again makes me feel less safe in my world.

And hopefully through our conversation, I’ll learn why my friend looked past all these horrendous qualities and placed a vote with this guy. I’ll learn what issues he hopes are addressed with this next president. And we can both walk away with a better understanding of each other’s worlds and the world in general.

I want to hope for our future with this president. I want to silver lining the shit outta of this situation. But here’s the thing about hope. It makes you vulnerable. That’s why it’s so hard to place it in someone who’s hurt you.

For me, it’s not about giving up hope. It’s about placing hope where it belongs–with the people who won’t stand for the America that this guy perpetuated. He hasn’t earned my hope, so until he does I’m placing zero with him. And I am placing all of mine with the good, the sturdy, and the progressive people of this country who organically work across the aisle to better understand one another.

So gear up, Chicago, because I believe this winter–and the next four–are going to be rough. Really cold. Lots of snow. But it’ll be the character building kind of years that makes our people tough and inspires really good art. Let’s get to making it.

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